DAY FOURTEEN – 3rd April 2011
Things often look better in the morning, though before I get a chance to see if that’s the case, I’m woken at 6am by the call to prayer from the nearest mosque. A couple of hours later I learn that my actual hotel room will be available at noon. The manager from the Asmali Hotel collects my bags giving me some time to kill.
Whenever you’re in a Muslim country, the chances are that your hotel will be within close distance of the loudspeaker announcing worship three times a day, so I decide to go to church.
Well, a mosque actually, and not just any old mosque.
It’s barely 10am, but already the queues are forming outside the Blue Mosque right in the heart of old Istanbul. There’s no admission fee, but visitors are asked to follow etiquette and remove their shoes. The building was commissioned by Sulten Ahmet I in the early 17th century, and like many religious buildings, it doesn’t do modest interiors
Below the magnificent domes, thousands of tourists click their cameras. It’s all to easy to forget that this is still very much a living and working mosque. To the sides of the main building, women gather for silent prayer.
Just across the main square is Haghia Sophia, which dates back to AD 537. It’s since been deconsecrated, but it no less impressive.
It’s simply a stunning building, with history shouting out at you from every corner, though personally I think it’d make a lovely pub.
What? Did I offend someone?
Anyway, I finally have my hotel room and at least the outside looks a bit more welcoming than the last place.